City settles lawsuit over Showbox at the Market; price tag set for possible new owner

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The City of Seattle and owners of the Showbox property near the Pike Place Market reached a settlement over a lawsuit that creates an option to save the music venue in its current form.

The cost for a third party to buy it: $41.4 million.

"The owner has always been open to consider any serious purchaser that offers fair market-value," said Aaron Pickus, spokesman for the ownership group 1426 First Avenue LLC.

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The owners of the property sued after the city council temporarily extended the Pike Place Market Historical District boundaries to include the Showbox property.

The lawsuit wanted more than $40 million in damages and attorney fees. On Tuesday, parties announced that 1426 First Avenue LLC settled for $915,000 in attorney fees and other costs.

Within 30 days, the parties are expected to ask King County Superior Court Judge Patrick Oishi to enter a final judgment in the case and void the Pike Place Market Historical District ordinances that brought the lawsuit. Neither party admits liability, and neither party will appeal any rulings from the Superior Court, according to the City Attorney's Office staff.

The agreement also allows a third party to buy the property and the Showbox name -- with the $41.4 million price tag -- “if the Landmarks Preservation Board recommends no controls be imposed on the property and the City Council imposes none,” according to City Attorney’s Office staff.

“Our settlement with the City of Seattle allows for a return to a consistent and fair application of the city's regulations governing 1426 First Avenue,” Pickus said in a statement. "We are also pleased that our settlement with the City of Seattle includes a contingent option for a third-party allied with the City to potentially purchase the property for $41.4 million."

City Attorney Pete Holmes said the focus of this situation is now appropriately with the Landmarks Preservation Board.

“I weighed the likelihood of success appealing a case that is now largely superfluous against a potential judgment costing the City tens of millions of dollars,” he said in a statement. “When presented with a resolution that costs us only a fraction of that potential judgment and that retains an option for a third-party organization like Historic Seattle to lead an effort to purchase the building in the event no landmark controls are imposed, this wasn't a difficult decision to make."

The theater was created in 1939 as the Show Box and has seen concerts from artists including Duke Ellington, Muddy Waters, the Ramones, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Macklemore and Ellen DeGeneres.

But it has not always been a concert venue. The space -- which survived a partial demolition in 1958 -- also was the Happening Teenage Nite Club in the 1960s and the Talmud Torah Hebrew Academy Bingo Hall in the 1970s, among other uses.

In 1975, the space also hosted Super Star Championship Wrestling, which packed in 1,100 fans -- a modest draw for a sport that brought thousands of spectators in the 1950s, ‘60s and 70s.

Previous coverage of The Showbox: